During the 27th Africa-France summit held on Saturday, more than 30 African leaders met with French elder state men in Mali’s capital, Bamako. Issues about African peace and security as well as intelligence sharing, capacity building and acquisition of hardware were discussed, highlighting the need to resolve security challenges on the continent.
In his speech, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the president of Mali, praised France’s President Francois Hollande for his commitment towards Africa, saying “of all the French heads of state, Hollande dealings with Africa have been the most sincere and the most loyal,” Keita stressed.
Here are three important points of discussion from the summit:
Although the partnership between Africa and France has yielded fruits in so many positive ways, President Buhari believes France can do more to help Africa overcome its challenges. In Mali, 4 years ago, France helped to combat extremist in the north of the country whereby 4,000 French troops are still on the ground and across the Sahel region to ensure peace and stability. In addition, since 2013, France has trained more than 20,000 African soldiers on yearly basis, during the course of the operation, the President of France, Francois Hollande said the French nation now aims to train more than 25,000 soldiers a year for a period of 3 years.
Notwithstanding, even with the unrest in Mali, and France continued interference with the peacekeeping mission, the effort is not acknowledged to an extent. The news broke on Friday when the French defense ministry released a note that the French soldiers deployed to northern Mali had killed a child jihadist during a counter-terror operation in November, But according to Jeune Afrique (Young Africa), a French-Language magazine stresses the victim was buried in secret by the soldiers.
On democracy, following the French president’s legacy, Africa can emulate the setting of democracy and France can further play important roles in the areas of development as well as peace and security with the focus to help combat al-Qaida-linked extremists and other jihadists.
Also, even with the intervention of the leaders from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a 15-nation regional bloc, there are claims that no deal has been reached as at Friday after the mediation efforts in Gambia. However, the political crisis took center stage at the summit in Mali, where leaders said they hope that Gambia’s leader, President Yahya Jammeh who has ruled for 22 years would step down peacefully, considering the December election that secured victory for his main opposition Adama Barrow.
Considering prior interventions, challenges faced as a result of terrorism, maritime insecurity, human trafficking, weapon trafficking, drugs, cyber insecurity, illicit financial flows and infrastructural deficit continue to tell against Africa’s infrastructural and economic development but problems don’t go away especially when necessary interventions are not made.
However, President Buhari has called for the intensification of efforts that will stimulate the African economy and address the social imbalance and steer its youth away from crime and unproductive ventures. But President Hollande promises to increase development project funds could be in line with investments in areas such as Education, Power, Solid Minerals, Agriculture and Information Communication Technology.
As we all know, African countries also have ministries and policies that run the country effectively, enhancing the fact that not all projects are carried out by foreign aids. However, to enhance productivity and create employment we need to address socio-economic conditions that contribute to gender inequality, radicalism and youth restiveness.
In the end, President Buhari highlighted that sustainable, predictable and transparent sources of finance would help the continent pursue its peace, security and development efforts, and address the infrastructural deficit limiting development on the continent. He later emphasised that the need for this partnership to continue to assist Africa in financing its development.